The Rays Tank: Niemann's Last Dance?

In the least surprising news of the weekend, Jeff Niemann looks to be headed back to the disabled list. Making his first start since suffering a broken leg three months ago, Niemann was pulled from Saturday's game with right shoulder inflammation. Although he was pitching decently, his velocity was down to the mid-to-high 80's. The big right hander told MLB.com "It's definitely frustrating to do as much as we've done and have gone through as much as we've gone through already this season, to have something like this happen at a very inopportune time for the team." That's where I disagree.

It would be inopportune for the team if they didn't have any MLB caliber starters to fill that void. Luckily for the Rays, and unluckily for Niemann, Alex Cobb has stepped up and pitched well enough to make Niemann an afterthought. Having him spot start down the stretch was just a luxury. Going into the winter the Rays will be faced with the same situation as last year, having six starters for five spots. Cobb is younger, cheaper and better. Niemann may have pitched his last game in Tampa Bay.

Links:

-Kris Medlen is the current best story in baseball. His changeup is a big reason why. Only Fernando Rodney is allowing a lower OPS on a changeup this season.

-James Shields' last night starts have been fantastic, and a big reason why the Rays are making another playoff push. Opponents are hitting just .171 against him over that time, and just .190 against his fastball. That's in stark contrast to his first 19 starts where those numbers were .290 and .352.

-Former Ray Justin Ruggiano is doing something pretty rare, as R.J. Anderson notes at Baseball Prospectus.

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